Many people hike, bike, run or kayak to raise money for a cause, but not all create a Web site as an educational platform to further environmental issues on top of a 30-mile-a-day, four-month trek.

That’s what former Hampden Academy track star Oriana Farley did with her boyfriend, David Madeira, in preparation for their thru-hike of the 3,100-mile Continental Divide Trail.

The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail runs from Mexico to Canada along the Rocky Mountains and through five states. According to the Continental Divide Trail Alliance, which works to expand and improve the trail, roughly 70 percent of the trail is complete, while the remainder demands navigation and bushwhacking from willing hikers.

When Farley, 24, decided last year she wanted to hike the Continental Divide Trail before enrolling in law school this fall, she felt she also should give back.

With Madeira she built a Web site – – to help raise $15,000 for their charity of choice, Rockland-based Environment Northeast. There is a good chance you’ve never heard of the nonprofit, and that is part of the reason Farley said they chose it.

Environment Northeast researches and advocates environmental solutions for a cleaner, more sustainable world with the aim of enacting policy and laws. The staff of 16 researches problems related to clean air, forestry and climate change as well as seacoast issues, pretty much all the environmental areas that affect Maine.


It was the perfect cause to champion, said Farley, a five-time state champion in track and field while at Hampden Academy.

“I think regardless of what we choose as a professional career, we all have a little environmentalist under it all, or we should,” she said. “I think a lot of people my age are talking to friends and we’re all having this realization that (the environment) is a pretty pressing issue at this stage.”

In the past several months the two hikers became as much champions of ENE’s work as they are fans of remote mountains and wild valleys.

“One of the exciting things, they’re raising awareness about our work to a constituency that we don’t have the capacity to reach out to. I think it is a group of people who care a lot about the kind of issues we work on,” said Dan Sosland, executive director of Environment Northeast, which has one of the largest teams of climate and energy policy specialists in the region.

The group gets most of its funding from grants, Sosland said. The CDT-Trek team hopes to raise $15,000, but Sosland said it is their educational work that has struck a chord with his team of policymakers.

Sosland said the two hikers break down ENE’s research work and present it in a conversational, fun way on their Web site.


“They took material about regulations and legislative fights and distilled it. They are able to say why it’s important what we’ve achieved and why people ought to support us. They convey this excitement, we read it and then we get excited all over again at what we’ve done,” Sosland said.

And it’s only the beginning, Farley said.

On March 29 they’ll leave from Hachita, N.M., to hike through mountains and parkland trying to make it to Canada by Aug. 10, while all along the way teaching others about ENE’s work.

Farley has applied to law school and plans to go in August, which puts the two hikers on a tight schedule. They must hike an average of 30 miles a day as they trek through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.

Yet Farley said finishing the trail at this point is secondary.

“It’s not just us benefiting. It’s us and ENE and our region, and our friends and family who live here. Hopefully, we will affect a larger number of people,” she said.

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:


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